Sam Keller's TEC Blog

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sustainable Recovery?

The Institute for Trend Research, headed by Brian and Alan Beaulieu and Jeff Dietrich, has long been recognized by TEC as an accurate source of economic forecasts.

Recent poor economic news has once again fueled speculation that we may be headed for a "double dip" recession. Alan Beaulieu disagrees. In an article published in the August 2010 issue of Automation World, Alan states that the U.S. and global recovery is sustainable.

He says a sustainable recovery "... has been our outlook and that remains our outlook going forward, despite the increasing clamor of the double-dip alarmists. Yes, there are real dangers out there that threaten our well being, but we have taken them into consideration when putting together our forecast."

"However, it is expected that the rate of recovery in the United States will be milder than most of us would like and milder than we had anticipated 15 months ago."

While the news is not great, there does seem to be a light at the end of this long tunnel we are now in.

Click here for the complete article.

Getting Constructive Solutions from Front-Line Employees

Well run manufacturing companies have long known that some of the best ideas for process improvement come from front line employees. Many, if not most successful companies have a process that takes a quality, safety or customer service problem or incident, finds the root cause and takes preventative measures that ensure that the issue does not occur again. A key part of the success of this process is having a culture in place that encourages participation throughout the organization.

Harvard Professors Julia Rose Adler-Milstein, Sara J. Singer, and Michael W. Toffel, recently completed a study titled "Speaking Up Constructively: Managerial Practices that Elicit Solutions from Front-Line Employees".

The authors report "This study is among the first to develop and empirically test theory about how specific management practices can encourage employees to speak up about operational problems they witness. Our findings provide evidence that (a) employees speak up more often and offer more solutions when managers promote this behavior through information campaigns and through their own engagement in problem-solving activities and (b) these managerial behaviors may be considered substitutes." In other words, either an information campaign or managerial engagement will work.

The authors further state that "By identifying specific managerial behaviors, this study empowers managers to adjust their approaches to engaging workers in problem solving, which in turn can provide them with new sources of information about opportunities to improve work systems. In organizations that can learn from mistakes, this information can spark a virtuous cycle of performance improvement."

These results are no surprise to us in manufacturing. I found it interesting that the study was of the health industry, suggesting that practices common to manufacturing have much broader application.

Click here for the complete text of the study.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Leadership Characteristics

Jeff Blackman, TEC/Vistage Resource Speaker and business growth specialist, listed in his July 2010 Newsletter, 12 characteristics that are shared by great leaders. I wanted to share them with you.

Great leaders:

1. create a culture of trust and integrity

2. are flexible and willing to change, improve, enhance and upgrade

3. make tough decisions...knowing some folks "ain’t gonna like it"

4. value their people and their knowledge, creativity and enthusiasm

5. challenge the status quo

6. are highly disciplined, especially about time or self-management

7. delegate to others who can “do it” faster, better or smarter (and then get out of their way)

8. make today meaningful, yet always have a vision for tomorrow

9. seek honest and hard-hitting outside counsel, (they know what they don’t know...and want to hear what they haven’t heard)

10. are focused on the acquisition, satisfaction and retention of quality clients, customers and employees

11. listen, listen, listen

12. ask intelligent generate significant results

Click here to visit Jeff's web site.